Should You Buy The Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue? 10 Lessons Learnt From My Time With The Watch I Wore The Most In 2020
Editor’s note: This is a more emotional, personal take on my Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue, and less of a formal review with in-depth specifications. We covered all that in its initial release back in mid-2020, and you can read that here.
The hyped and elusive Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue released in July 2020 as a non-limited model that somehow like most Rolex models managed to secure a place in the elite, never-ending sinkhole simply named ‘the waitlist’. This winner of the 2020 GHPG Challenge Prize is a newer edition to the smaller sized popular diver collection, that includes the existing 39mm gilt-dialled ref. M79030N-0002 (on leather strap).
Unlike the other really popular Tudor model that I love, the Heritage Black Bay Harrods Edition 79230G ‘Kermit’ version, this one is available globally. And while I am on some sort of list at Harrods for the green bezel beauty, I in the meanwhile managed to get the BB58 Blue at retail.
It is this ref. 79030B that we are looking at today, as it is the watch that I wore the most in 2020. But as fate would have it, not by design but perchance.
Lesson One: Fate Beats Intentions
At the beginning of last year, I really wanted to add the Omega Seamaster Worldtimer (again in blue) to my collection, which I still haven’t been able to. Another watch still on my radar is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duoface (with again a blue face that changes to purple under different lighting).
And even though I had liked the new Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue based on the press pictures and the specifications upon its release, I was in no mood of being in awe of yet another blue dialled watch, given there were two already on my list. Granted they all feature different complications and styles, but at the end of the day fulfil the one task I like my watches to fulfil: they all tell time.
Time progressed, and here I am, half-way through the year, waiting for both my local ADs to get me either of these two watches — boy do I wish I had the funds for everything — but a personal milestone event occurs that spurred my wife to buy me something to mark it.
Lesson Two: Never Say No To A Gift From Your Wife
Now here is something that you should know; my wife as lovely as she is, is a very practical person. I am not. And despite both of us running a watch blog, she believes that a person doesn’t need infinite watches in their collection. So a watch as a gift from her is totally outside the realms of possibility. And when she mentioned back in August that she wants to get me something, my reaction was essentially ‘Nah, thanks but don’t bother’.
The reasoning behind it was that instead of her getting me something useful that I might actually need — so not a watch — I might end up saving that money for one of the above-mentioned timepieces.
But after a fair few nights on the couch and a slew of arguments that I clearly lost but wouldn’t admit to, I reluctantly agreed for her to buy me something. Little did I know that it was going to be a watch.
Her reasoning, being a watch convert — a side-effect of our marriage — herself, was simple: in Tudor BB58 Blue she felt there was actually a watch that she could foresee me wearing a lot; here was an opportunity for her to buy me a nice beater watch, something that I will admit now my collection needed.
According to her, and I concede, Tudor hit the ball out of the park with this one. It’s that ideal love child of a dress and a tool watch. It’s such a good offering that whether you are in team snob-only watches or team oversized tool watches, you simply can’t deny it’s versatility and wrist presence.
Not only that, but the specifications are a point to jump over roofs about as well.
The reference 79030B retails for only $4’580 AUD and features a COSC-certified manufacture movement, the calibre MT5402. This 26mm diameter and 4.99mm thick movement features a variable inertia balance, a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, an open-worked (with satin-brushed and sand-blasted details) tungsten monobloc rotor, and bridges and mainplate with alternate sand-blasted, polished surfaces and laser decorations. It beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), comprises of 27 jewels, and offers an impressive 70-hour power reserve.
The movement is encased inside a 39mm diameter and 11.9mm thick 316L steel case with polished and satin finishes. The case features a unidirectional rotatable bezel in 316L steel with 60-minute graduated disc in matt blue anodised aluminium with silver gilded markings and numerals. The case also features a trustworthy water-resistance of 200m (20 ATM), something that again watches in my collection lacked.
My gut reaction when I had reviewed it back in July was that it’s an exceptional timepiece. But given I had other watches on my mind, I ignored that and spent my energy on trying to find the Omega & JLC offerings at a decent price. Turns out, I should always listen to my gut reaction.
Lesson Three: Better Late Than Never
Anyway, so like I said earlier, for the initial months of last year, I was interested in other watches. While aiming for those and working on this website, I was heavily relying on my Heuer Monaco 50th anniversary release from 2019. It like the Tudor BB58 Navy Blue is one of those watches that you have to see and wear in person to fully appreciate.
A couple of months rolled by and Covid-19 made its unfortunate entry and I ended up spending more time indoors than outdoors.
Then came the release of the Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue. And not being a huge fan of divers, as much as I felt it was a very good offering, I decided to ignore it for my personal collection.
As a matter of fact, I have come close many times to owning a Tudor but somehow haven’t managed to make that call. The Tudor GMT and the BB Bronze are stunning timepieces and now that I have the BB58, I am not sure how far those are from my reach anymore.
But back in my pre-BB58 days, given I don’t dive or spend time at a beach or by the pool, I didn’t see a point to dive watches. I also live in Sydney CBD, and the ‘usefulness’ of a tool watch is question worthy. It is only after owing and using the BB58 that I have fallen in love with the idea of having access to a rotating bezel that can time things. Turns out I am someone who likes to time daily occurrences, like how long it took me to get groceries yesterday or how much time I spent walking in my balcony the day before. But until the BB58, the chronographs I have did that job, albeit not as satisfactorily as the insanely mesmerising sounding bezel rotation of the BB58.
So yes, in short, upon its announcement and release, I ignored the idea of buying a BB58 for myself and moved on.
Coming back to my wife’s gift idea, since she wanted it to be a surprise, came the hurdle on trying to acquire one.
My wife tried contacting every retailer in Sydney and Melbourne but all either had incredibly long wait-lists or wanted what I would deem as ‘bribes’. One retailer blankly said “pay us 25’000 AUD” — by buying other watches, so not a legal bribe but still what I would construe to be a bribe — and you can have it in a week.
Dejected, having no choice left, she came to me, with two requests: one, to find it and buy it from her side for myself. And two, still act surprised.
This was a bittersweet feeling – on one hand, I was ecstatic that I was being given a watch. On the other hand, I could see the other Omega and JLC options slip away, as what with Covid hitting hard, the budget of two timepieces was gone; it was either accept a nice gift from my wife in the form of the Tudor BB58 Blue or by the other options.
But to maintain the peace, I agreed. I know I sound like a spoilt, ungrateful brat here but I really wanted one of the two watches I talked about.
And better late than never, after a good search for finding it at retail without extensive wait-list, I found one pretty quickly.
Lesson Four: Never Pay Over Retail
Given she had tried every avenue short of the grey market — that just is simply a no-no on a personal level — I decided to seek a friend’s help in Singapore who works for one of the major retailers there.
Not only was she very welcoming, but she also arranged so that we received the new Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue within a fortnight of ordering it, that too with complimentary shipping and at retail (SGD). To be frank, owing to money conversion rates and taxes, it cost slightly more than the Australian retail of $4’580, but that is something I was happy to pay because it was still at retail and without the waiting lists. And more importantly, the retailer did not mock the very idea of us trying to buy this watch at retail without waiting.
Lesson Five: Never Judge A book By Its Cover
The Tudor BB58 comes in a standard, rather ominous-looking black box, nothing too out of the ordinary, probably just like the watch it houses. Both are no-frills, no BS, straight to the point, get-the-job-done kind of objects.
Inside the soft touch — just like the watch strap — box are the standard documents and the watch on a hard pillow.
The box is a reflection of what it contains.
I have mentioned that unlike most, I am not a dive watch person. And also, I am not a metal bracelet person as well. So I ended up ordering it on the really soft, suede feel leather strap. Now as much as I like the strap individually, especially the deployant buckle design, I couldn’t take the watch and blue leather combo together.
I am finding it hard to write this, but there is such a thing as too much blue.
So my first impression wasn’t the best; I liked how it looked, more than I thought a diver could — again, we are talking about my personal tastes here — but wasn’t immediately wowed by it.
I remember my review back in July 2020 when it was released, and I was quite impressed by the overall package appeal. But looking at it just sitting inside a box, it looked rather dull, rather boring. After all, how exciting can a watch get when its calling card is simply that it is now available in blue?
It was then that I decided to swap out the factory strap for aftermarket options and put it on my wrist. And hot damn!
There is something about the dimensions — 39mm diameter, 11.9mm thickness, thin bezel, slim lugs — and geometry of the Tudor BB58 as a whole that for someone with slimmer wrists such as myself is the ideally sized watch.
It turns out that courtesy my wife the Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue was more of an arranged rather than a love marriage for me, in a complete irony of all my previous watch purchases and my actual marriage to my wife.
Lesson Six: First Impressions Aren’t Always True
Once strapped on to the wrist, the navy blue matt domed dial that features central hour, minute and second hands (with stop-seconds for precise time setting) presents itself as a contemporary backdrop for the applied hour-markers and the “Snowflake” hands to work their magic on.
The inclusion of white rather than fauxtina indices is an excellent decision as well. As a matter of fact, the hypnotising contrast of these white indices against the cold blue combined with the sweet sound of the 60-click bezel is what really defines this timepiece.
The incredible legibility we have gotten accustomed to when dealing with the Tudor BB range is still retained, and the filling-in of the hands with Grade-A Swiss Super-LumiNova® luminescent material only further aides this legibility.
It also does make for some seriously amazing lume shots.
Another aspect that jumps out is the rather large winding crown with the impressive Tudor Rose logo/insignia. The good thing about it is that it feels solid. The winding stem is strong and thick, and you feel comfortable using it.
Peter Gabriel’s song lyrics of ‘If looks could kill… ’ ring true here. I just can’t help looking at it, it’s got that extra X-factor that while it looks dull and quite boring just sitting in a watch box, the moment it’s on the wrist, it comes alive.
It’s as if it was born to be played with. Think of it this way: the joy the pet dog gets when it knows it’s going to the park vs being cooped up inside your house waiting for you to come back home from work (well at least in pre-historic, I mean pre-Covid days). The Tudor BB58 Navy Blue loves the attention of natural light, and it presents its best front embracing it.
Lesson Seven: Always Listen To Your Gut Reaction
I said in my original review that while the shade of blue of the new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue may not be something that’s revolutionary in its hues, it nonetheless manages to elevate the existing Tudor BB58 collection with a more fun, youthful aesthetic, something that will be the envy of anything in its price range.
And the more time I spend with this, the more I realise how true that statement is.
It ticks every single damn box I have when I add watches to my own collection: stealth yet with superb wrist presence; brand heritage more than brand recognition; comfort level; excellent tactile feeling, with a highly grip-able bezel that also has an amazing sounding action; in-house movement; and a devil-may-care vibe.
Add to these that shade of blue that goes from lighter tones under the sunlight to darker, almost black-ish appearance in the shade, and what we have here is the one watch that didn’t leave my wrist once it was on it.
And not just my personal watch collecting boxes, it ticks other boxes too: for purists who appreciate the idea of a new watch retaining the characteristic proportions of the 1950s; for people on budget restraints; for pursuers of vintage style watches; or for folks that need watches for smaller wrist sizes.
Lesson Eight: GPHG Is Better Than The Oscars
I usually don’t end up agreeing with Oscar results for the most part, given sob-tales of misery aren’t my cup of tea. There is already enough drama in real life for me to go spend time in a cinema watching an artist take on some true shit that went down. Consequently, most movies I enjoy don’t end up winning Oscars, and vice-versa.
But the Oscars of watchmaking, the GPHG for 2020 awarded this Tudor BB58 with the GHPG Challenge Prize (watches with a retail price under 4’000 CHF), and I am in complete agreement with their decision.
The watch overall is an exercise on how utilitarian watches should be.
It is an excellent mix of vintage with modern, walking that line really well. Another good thing is that even if someone has a Rolex Sub, this doesn’t ‘eat’ into the wrist time of the other. On the wrist, these are two completely different timepieces.
The thin bezel and thinner lugs, somewhat reminiscent of pre-ceramic or vintage Submariners — even the ones up until 2008 when the Submariner ref. 116619LB was introduced and kind of ruined it for me personally — are what make this a great companion on smaller wrists of 16cm and a bit such as mine.
In terms of overall design aesthetics and wrist feel, it harkens back to the design of a fair number of vintage Rolex Submariners, ones that to me still are the best divers ever made.
Whether it is the ‘honeycomb’ Rolex Ref. 6204 from 1953 or the 6205 with Mercedes hour hands or the Ref. 6536 and 6538 from the late 50s, the Tudor BB58 brings to my wrist the charm of those yesteryear beauties without the added costs of finding and maintaining them.
And while the gilt Tudor BB58 always reminded me of the Ref. 6536-1 Chronometer, the new Tudor BB58 Navy Blue feels more like the ref. 6538 4 line, the one I really admire. Just sans the colour and hand types but I like the snowflake hands anyway.
We have actually compared this to other modern Tudor offerings and other brands’ watches we believe this competes with in our previous review, so if you are interested, please check that out as well here.
Lesson Nine: The Wife Is Always Right
The Tudor Black Bay Navy Blue is for everybody and anybody who likes timepieces.
No matter if you are used to wearing Seikos, Omegas, Pateks or Rolexes. If you can afford it, it is the one. I would even go on to say that it is THE best value for money offering from 2020, with one of the best shades of blue to boot as well. It quenches my horological knowledge benchmarks, the bargain hunter in me, and fills that daily driver void I had been feeling in my collection.
I said this for the Tudor Royal 41 earlier when reviewing it and am saying it again, the Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue is for someone who wants to have his cake and eat it too.
And I suppose it is only right for me at this juncture to acknowledge that my wife was right. This is the watch that I needed for my collection.
Its understated yet imposing on the wrist aesthetics also mean that I can wear this just about anywhere and with anything. The versatility factor is extremely high and so is its compatibility with an array of strap options (as you can see in the pictures).
Lesson Ten: Respect Your Elders But The Older Brother Isn’t Always Correct
This year, Tudor’s older brother, the more revered and one whose slightly dressier offerings I personally admire and own, also released an updated Rolex Submariner 41mm, the ref. 126610LN.
When I managed to get some limited hands-on time with it, compared to my Tudor, it just looked big. And plainer.
Now don’t get me wrong, Submariners are THE dive watches. Born in 1953, the Submariner is an icon of the horology world. And ones such as the ref. 6538 and ref. 5513 are simply mind-blowing. After all, they were good enough for Mr Bond too. But the modern versions with ceramic-like I have said earlier are not really my cup of tea.
Rolex will always be the king no doubt and I remember reviewing the new one in September and calling it ‘Always Was, and Still Is, the Original Legend’. You can read the full review here.
But for now, for me, Tudor is definitely the prince, and the watch brand for the prince charming of my wife apparently.
Jests aside, as an architect (with slimmer wrists), the proportions and geometry of the BB58 works wonders, and as a perpetual watch strap swapper, I love the ease of 20mm inter-horn lug spacing and the fact that unlike Rolex offerings, there is a substantial gap between the case-band and the spring bar holes location for me to easily use different kinds of straps without them scrubbing against the case.
On top of that the specifications for the price of less than half of the new Rolex Submariner — at retail mind you, in reality, if you buy these, that’s a different topic and price anyway — made it simply the best offering from 2020.
It is just a simple watch, that does best what it is supposed to do without any frivolous distractions – it tells the time accurately.
In summation, I feel it is like Beethoven for the souls of the watch crazed. It is the watch that I am thankful to be gifted and one that I wore the most in 2020. It also taught me some valuable life lessons along the way.
To find out more about Tudor watches, please visit their website here. All images used unless stated otherwise ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It. As a side note, all pictures still have original stickers to them, simply because I never take mine off; I let them come off with time. Just a personal quirk really, and another thing my wife is trying to get me to change.